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Billy, Alfred, and General Motors by William Pelfrey

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CHAPTER SEVEN

Birth of a General

Unlike Billy Durant and Henry Ford, Alfred Sloan preferred to be in the background rather than under the spotlight, even as his reputation as a shrewd executive continued to grow. He felt that the automobile business was attracting “as sugar draws flies, a host of persons who had strong appetites for excitement.”1

Sloan saw himself as a different breed, dealing with those persons with “strong appetites for excitement” only when there was a need for what he saw as his own unique technical expertise. Yet he actually admitted to enjoying a meeting of the minds when the topic was an engineering problem.

“Mix with them?” he mused. “I felt I had more important work to do at the Hyatt plant. But the mixing was important ...

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